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WV Diver
11-23-2009, 17:33
The Manta Ray Night Dive just off shore of Hawaii really is one of those must do dives. It should be experienced and enjoyed by all divers. This is also a great experience if you prefer to snorkel or just haven’t gotten around to getting scuba certified. We went out with Big Island Divers out of Kona, Hawaii and I can recommend them highly.

This was a two tank package that included a dive in and near the same area that the Manta Ray Night Dive takes place with plenty of surface interval prior to nightfall.

This first dive was dubbed the Garden Eels Reef for obvious reasons. The eels are in less than 80’ of water and there are many. It's a great place to see them shallowish water, if memory serves they were around 60’-70’ which is unusual for me. I usually see them at depths of 100’+. We also saw a nice sized Whitetip Reef Shark, a Lionfish, a Crown of Thorns, eels and of course the currently unofficial Hawaiian state fish the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. It is pronounced: hoomoo - hoomoo - nookoo - nookoo - ah - poo - ah - ah, quite a mouthful. It means fish with a pig's nose.

Date = 27 Oct 09, Max depth = 78’, Vis = 100’+, Water temp = 79*F. Dive time = 57 Minutes

The second dive of course was The Manta Ray Night Dive. It was amazing just to see so many divers at one time shining their lights up through the water column and watching the exhaust bubbles straining to reach the surface. But when the rays showed up it was breathtaking. There were about 10 there this night and they ranged in size from about 7’ to 12’ wingspans. We were told that for every foot of wingspan the animal would weigh approximately 100 lbs. But for their size they were some of most graceful and majestic animals I have ever witnessed. So much power and yet so fluid in their movements these animals would come within literally an inch of your head to collect the plankton swarming around you light.

Each diver has a light of course and groups of buddy teams sit on the bottom around a set of fixed lights that lay on the bottom, in the sand, shining up toward the surface. This set of fixed lights, called the “Camp Fire,” along with each diver’s light shining toward the surface helps attract and concentrate the plankton, which in turn draws the rays into the area. Since this has been going on for so long the rays are conditioned to come to the lights knowing that there is an easy meal awaiting them.

The mantas have distinct markings on their underside in the “chest” area. Their undersides are white and the markings are black and as unique as fingerprints. These marks are used to identify individual animals and of course they have all been given colorful names.

There is also a resident Undulated Eel that likes to ham it up for the cameras. They call him Frank and he made a brief appearance on this night. He is known to wrap himself around divers and go in and out of their BCs.

This was a fantastic dive and if you are a diver, well worth the Hawaii trip all by itself. The newer you are to scuba diving the more spectacular this dive should be for you.

There is a lady there that does professional video and she travels around to all the different buddy teams and gets good video of the mantas circling above and around your head. Afterward you can buy her work in the parking lot for a reasonable fee. She broadcasts the nights work from a TV monitor mounted on top of her car when you get back to the dock. We picked up a copy.

Date = 27 Oct 09, Max depth = 35’, Vis = 100’ across the camp fire, Water temp = 74*F. Dive time = 50 Minutes.

Watch the videos in this link for a good taste of what to expect.

Manta Ray Night Dive Kona Hawaii, Number 1 night dive Hawaii Island (http://www.bigislanddivers.com/MantaDive.html)

Kudos to Russ, the boat captain and Luke the DM. Great job gentlemen!!

Desert_Diver
11-23-2009, 18:00
Nice pics.

I always love watching mantas. So powerful but so graceful.

Thanks,

Art

Zenagirl
11-24-2009, 07:17
Great report and fabulous experience! Although we go to Hawaii every year, we've never made it to the Big Island to dive....but it's on our "must do" list. ;) We've been fortunate enough to see Mantas every year in Maui, and this year we're hopefully going to Manta Point where there's a cleaning station, but clearly nothing would compare to the Manta night dive you experienced. Very cool.

TJDiver
11-24-2009, 10:01
Thanks for the report and pics. That is definitely on my bucket list!

tomich
12-13-2009, 03:43
The Manta Ray Night Dive just off shore of Hawaii really is one of those must do dives. It should be experienced and enjoyed by all divers. This is also a great experience if you prefer to snorkel or just havenít gotten around to getting scuba certified. We went out with Big Island Divers out of Kona, Hawaii and I can recommend them highly.


You were saying that snorklers could go on the boat too! What is it like for snorklers? (I'm going at the end of the month and some of the people I'm with don't dive!)

WV Diver
12-13-2009, 05:37
We did not have snorkelers on our boat. I am not sure but I think there was a boat there with all snorkelers. I'm sorry I did not catch the name of that vessel. I'm sure if you called the folks at Big Island Divers they could fill you in with all those details.

What we saw of the snorkelers was from looking up at them from the bottom. They were connected to each other by one of those foam pool noodles. It was large and round so they were in a big circle looking down and shining their lights down. In addition to having the large noodle to hold onto each of them also had an additional noodle that they could wrap around their waist for extra flotation.

Travelnsj
12-13-2009, 10:09
Great report. That is one of my favorite dives in July or August when that water is around 82!

scubajane
12-13-2009, 11:22
sigh....lovely....I miss being underwater.....think I'll take a shower....

indatexas
12-15-2009, 00:57
I think I recognize that eel and is that Lefty I see swimming around?

thecheeseman
12-20-2009, 23:49
It really is an absolutely incredible dive! We had ~16 mantas...absoltutely amazing.

chilly willy
12-21-2009, 07:01
Can't wait for Jan 8, that's the arrival date for Kona. I should be swimming with Bertha (one of the most regular mantas and the largest) by the 9th.